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February 9, 2013

No. 1 Gators hand Tide second straight loss

By Jim Harvin
Special to TideSports.com

GAINESVILLE, Fla. | For the second straight week, a strong team and a large, enthusiastic crowd were too much to overcome for the fifth-ranked University of Alabama gymnastics team as the Crimson Tide fell to No. 1 Florida, 198.100-196.850, Friday night before a Stephen C. O'Connell Center crowd of 8,074.

Florida's score is not only the highest in the nation this year but is the second-highest mark in the Gators' program history. They improved to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in Southeastern Conference dual meet action while the Crimson Tide slipped to 3-2, 3-2.

Alabama's score, meanwhile, was just one-tenth of a point short of last week's season-high score of 196.950 recorded in a road loss to No. 6 Georgia.

"I feel like our ladies continue to improve," head coach Sarah Patterson said. "We didn't have that one event where we had a lot of mistakes. We missed some landings.

"You know, I voted Florida number one in the preseason for a reason, because of the talent they have. They were just really great tonight, and I thought that we were good, too. I think we earned every tenth of a point that we got tonight. Our ladies really worked hard."

Senior All-American Marissa Gutierrez led the way for the Crimson Tide, matching her collegiate-best mark of 9.95 en route to winning the vault title.

"Marissa had a great vault," Patterson said.

"She was the only one who stuck her landing cold solid."

Unfortunately, that was the only event title of the night for Alabama.

Junior All-American Kim Jacob, who had won the all-around title in each of the Crimson Tide's previous four meets, had to settle for third place with a 39.425 behind Florida's Bridget Sloan (39.675) and Ashanee Dickerson (39.650), respectively.

Patterson noted that she is looking forward to her team getting back to the friendly confines of Coleman Coliseum where the Crimson Tide hosts instate rival Auburn Friday at 7:30 p.m.

"These have been two huge crowds that we've competed against," she said. "I hope what our fans take from this is that this is still one of the top teams in the country, and we've got a clear challenge ahead of us with Auburn."

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